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Who are the most talented but under-appreciated writers in America?

Snigdha Koirala

September 20, 2021, 11:56am

Longwood University has revealed the five finalists for the 2021 John Dos Passos Prize, the oldest literary award granted by a university or college in Virginia. The prize, now in its 40th year, seeks to recognize the country’s “most talented but under-appreciated writers.” Previous winners include Paul Beatty (2015), Ruth Ozeki (2014), and Colson Whitehead (2012).

“I love the ingenuity of these five authors,” said Brandon Haffner, assistant professor of English and chair of judges, in a press release. “Their stories take surprising shapes and show off the thrilling possibilities of fiction.”

The 2021 winner will be announced in October, and will receive an honorarium and give a reading at Longwood in Spring 2022. Here are this year’s finalists:

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
 Madeleine is Sleeping; Hempel Chronicles; Likes

Nathan Englander
 What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank; Dinner at the Center of the Earth; Kaddish.com

Maaza Mengiste
 Beneath the Lion’s Gaze; The Shadow King

Monique Truong
The Book of Salt; Bitter in the Mouth; The Sweetest Fruits

Leni Zumas
 Farewell Navigator; The Listeners; Red Clocks

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